Poetry October 2009

Out of the Woods

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Listen the poet read this poem aloud.

What is it about the forest?
Why can’t we give it a rest?
All those writers taking
soulful walks in the woods:
good heavens, it’s been done.
Step out and get some sun!
Dante did, after getting the goods
in the darkest glades from Virgil;
but what about Longfellow
sadly tagging along—
or ten steps back, at the distance
of a translated insistence?
Sure, I admire the flight paths
of the hawk moths of Nabokov,
who pinned them down in a knockoff
of the hawthorn path in Proust—
but if I must lose my way,
I’ll take the route of song:
give me Sondheim any day.
I’ve had my fill of Frost,
proud again to be lost,
coming upon his fork
in the road for the millionth time,
or stumbling upon woodpiles
of somebody else’s work.

Mary Jo Salter’s most recent collection is A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems (2008). She teaches at Johns Hopkins University.
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